How To Make Perfume Without Alcohol

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The most common base for modern commercial perfumes is an alcohol one. There are of course other additives included, such as commonly a preservative and a fixative; however the most important component is the pure denatured alcohol.

Perfumers base is fine for most of us. Like any other cosmetic product excessive and prolonged use may not be a good thing, but it has been decreed as non harmful by the National Cosmetics Standards Committee.

Some people have allergies to alcohol though; or they find it has a drying effect on their skin. Others just feel that they would prefer a more natural and gentle base for their perfumes.

These sorts of people ask the question- how can I make perfume without alcohol?

Actually this is very simple indeed. To make a perfume without alcohol all you have to do is choose an unscented oil to be the base for your perfume. Examples of good unscented oils which are perfect for perfumery include Sweet Almond Oil and Jojoba Oil.

Perfumes essentially consist of a percentage of fragrance and essential oils in a base (usually alcohol). Oils are miscible in an alcohol base- up to a certain point (put too much in and it goes cloudy!) but oils are very readily miscible with other oils; and will mix easily, with perhaps the exception of particularly dense oils such as Benzoin which do need special treatment.

If you are thinking about making a perfume without alcohol you might be interested to know that you are following in an ancient tradition. Long before the advent of alcohol based perfumes the Egyptians, Romans, and Ancient Greeks were making beautiful oil based perfumes, often using tree resins such as Frankincense, Amber, and Sweet Myrrh, and flower petals such as Rose and Jasmine. You could even mix your oil with a little beeswax, gently heating it to melt, and then pouring it into a small tin or locket to create a solid perfume.

So you are in very good company- by choosing to make a perfume without alcohol you may well be following in the footsteps of Cleopatra or Hatshepsut!

It is also possible to create “water based” hydrolat perfumes where a special chemical process is carried out to blend those two immiscible substances- water and fragrance oil. However this is a specialist process and not something most people would usually attempt at home. Do look it up though as it’s very interesting and some say creates the most delicate perfume of all!